By Teresa Ristow
CENTRAL POINT — Crater High School will remain closed today and possibly longer, after a broken water main flooded the school over the weekend.
The water main likely broke either late Sunday night or early Monday morning, causing 2 to 3 inches of water to pool up in most of the school, Superintendent Randy Gravon said.
A custodian arriving at the school at about 5 a.m. saw water pouring out into the parking lot and discovered a completely flooded boiler room, Gravon said.
The district immediately canceled classes for the day Monday, and after assessing the damage, canceled classes for today also.
“We’ve had an eventful morning,” Gravon said Monday. “It’s the results of having an old building.”
Gravon said the school was built in 1954, and the main water line has experienced leaks and needed repairs in the past.
“These are old systems,” Gravon said.
A crew from Servpro, a water and fire restoration company in Central Point, had most of the water inside the building pumped out by 10 a.m. Monday.
Crater is broken into three smaller schools for students, each with its own wing of classrooms and offices.
Most of the water damage was confined to the Renaissance Academy and the Crater Academy of Health and Public Services, according to Todd Bennett, principal of the Crater School of Business, Innovation and Science, the only small school that wasn’t damaged.
Bennett said the boiler room was completely flooded, which may have caused permanent damage to the school’s heating system.
The district has acquired a temporary boiler to use for heat when the school does reopen, according to Spencer Davenport, district business manager.
Davenport said an insurance adjuster for the district was at the school Monday assessing the damages.
He said there were no estimates on the cost of damages at this point, and administrators were keeping their fingers crossed that the district wouldn’t be hit with a big bill.
“We’re hopeful that a lot of it will be paid through insurance,” said Davenport.
Davenport said the school staff does not believe that cold weather caused the pipe to break. Temperatures have been below freezing at the nearby Medford airport for the past three nights, dipping to 27 degrees on both Sunday and Monday early mornings.
Power was turned off to the high school because of the water damage, cutting off the Internet and phones to Sams Valley Elementary and Mae Richardson Elementary, which run off the same network.
Backup battery power at the elementary schools was turned on to restore phone and Internet service to each site by Monday afternoon.
Bennett said Crater hosted a semi-formal Winter Ball dance on Saturday night, so the damage must have occurred sometime after that.
“It all happened within 24 hours or less,” he said.
Computer towers that sit on the floor could have been damaged, as well as papers and other items stored at low levels, Bennett said.
“I’m worried about some of the furniture on the floor,” he said.
No water damage occurred in the school gym, so sports practices should continue as normal and girls basketball games scheduled for tonight should still happen as planned, Gravon said.
“We may have a cold gym, though,” Gravon said.
Gravon said that he hoped the school would reopen Wednesday, but said that might be “overly optimistic.”
The district will not try to hold make-up days for the students at the high school.
This is the second time the Central Point School District has experienced a flooded school.
A winter storm in 2006 flooded nine classrooms, a computer lab and the library of Sams Valley Elementary, sending classes into the gym, theater and staff room for more than two weeks while a cleanup and repairs took place.
Reach reporter Teresa Ristow at 541-776-4459 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story originally appeared in Medford Mail Tribune.